6:00: Morning News

Anticipating another close contest vs. K-State, Neal Brown says WVU must finish better

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Three of West Virginia’s four Big 12 Conference games have been decided by seven points or less. The Mountaineers defeated Baylor in overtime at home but lost a pair of seven-point decisions away from Milan Puskar Stadium. They are arguably a few plays away from being 5-0 but also could be 2-3 without a fourth-down conversion in overtime against the Bears.

“We didn’t finish it on the road,” said WVU head coach Neal Brown. “This team has to get to a point where we finish those types of games. In our league, most of these games are going to come down to the fourth quarter. We won one versus Baylor and didn’t win this one against Texas Tech. And we didn’t win against Oklahoma State. So we are 1-2 in those contests. We have to be better.”

In many ways, West Virginia’s ‘Climb’ began in Manhattan, Kansas last season. The Mountaineers beat No. 24 Kansas State 24-20 in Jarret Doege’s first start at WVU.

“We played pretty decent on defense. That was kind of the start. We didn’t play great in the first half the other night against Texas Tech. But we have played since that game, a really consistent quality defense.”

Kansas State’s Chris Klieman and Brown were part of the class of three head coaches to enter the Big 12 prior to the start of the 2019 season. Texas Tech’s Matt Wells is the other.

“He only continued to make them better and continued to grow their culture,” Brown said of Klieman. “I think it takes humility. There’s no need to change things that are good about a place. That speaks really well to Coach Klieman and their entire staff.”

“I have been impressed with what Neal has done,” Klieman said. “He and I came in at the same time and I have gotten to know him a little bit. He has done a great job there for sure. You can see how much progress they have made from year one to year two.

“They are really good up front. Their running back is a great football player. And I really like their quarterback. I think he is smart and does some really good things with the football. He is smart and playing at a high level.”

After dropping their season opener against Arkansas State, the Wildcats have won four in a row. That included a 38-35 win at Oklahoma. After a season-ending upper-body injury to starting signal caller Skylar Thompson, freshman Will Howard has taken the reins of the Wildcat offense. Howard completed 17-of-24 passes for 243 yards and a pair of touchdown passes in Saturday’s 55-14 win over Kansas.

“We struggled a little bit offensively in the first half. We couldn’t get out of our own way. I think we had four penalties in the first eleven plays. That’s hard for anybody to overcome. But I was really impressed with what he did in the third quarter. He led us on three touchdown drives and threw the ball really well.

“All the snaps he is getting, he is gaining more confidence. I have been super-pleased with where he is at.”

Kansas State Wildcats quarterback Will Howard (15) (Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports)

Texas game on six-day window from Big 12

Next Saturday’s Mountaineer matchup at Texas has been designated for a ‘six-day broadcast window’. The game will kickoff at either noon or 4 p.m. eastern and will be televised by either FOX or ABC.

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